Wednesday, February 04, 2009

1895 Plan to Rob Milan Bank was Hatched at Sandusky

On Sunday, February 3, 1895, Louis Stoughton hired a team of horses and a surrey from the Herb & Hocke Livery in Sandusky, Ohio. Charles Hocke did not think it unusual for Mr. Stoughton to make this request, as he was a well known customer.
August Reuter, proprietor of Reuter’s Hotel, had seen Louis Stoughton and four other men at his establishment during the first weekend of February in 1895. Mr. Stoughton and the others had been playing cards and drinking at the barroom. Reuter noticed that the men were seen going in and out of the hotel frequently.
According to the Ohio Democrat, about 4 a.m. on February 4, a terrific explosion was heard at the Lockwood Bank in Milan, Ohio. The safe had been cracked and about $30,000 was taken by five masked men. (Later reports indicated the sum was $18,000.) An alarm was heard all over the village of Milan. L.L. Stoddard, a cashier at the bank, saw five men leave the bank building. He fired several shots at them, but they got away.

On February 5, a telegram from Sandusky stated that two Sandusky residents, Edward (also known as Louis) Stoughton and Sol Hirshberger (sometimes spelled Hershberg) had been arrested. A preliminary hearing was held in Mayor Buerkle’s court room in Sandusky on Thursday, February 7. Attorneys Mills and Starbird represented the two in question. Louis Stoughton and Solly Hershberg maintained their innocence. Charles Cramer said that four suspicious looking individuals were acting nervously at his restaurant on Water Street on Sunday night. After the robbery, Mr. Dougherty, an agent with the Nickel Plate Railroad found three empty canvas money bags. It was assumed that the robbers divided the money before three of the robbers got away. There were twenty witnesses involved in the hearing which was well covered by the Sandusky Register.

Louis Stoughton was found guilty on circumstantial evidence, and was sentenced to the penitentiary for one year. After serving a few months, Stoughton was released on parole. At the time of the 1895 trial, it was determined that Stoughton had secured the rig, and drove the robbers to Milan. Sol Hershberg was held as an accessory to the robbery.

Mayor Philip Buerkle’s court was the scene of the hearing for Louis Stoughton and Sol Hershberg in 1895. On February 16, 1911, a front page article in the Sandusky Register, reported the death of Louis N. Stoughton. He died in a sanitarium at Massillon, Ohio on February 14, 1911, after having been in ill health for some time. While in Sandusky, Stoughton was considered “a very clever and bright man. He was a friend of the fellow who was down and out.” Stoughton often remarked that if he had the money that he had given to friends in Sandusky who “happened to be broke for a day or two,” he could have lived in ease for the rest of his life. The article continued that in Sandusky Stoughton was known as “Kid” Stoughton, the “king of them all.”

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